The power of a smile

Jennifer Burke/Staff Writer / Catholic Courier    |    12.12.2018
Category: Our Two Cents

Who can resist a genuine, heartfelt smile?

I wasn’t planning to write this post about grins. I was going to write about my infant son’s recent baptism or about the Dec. 8 feast day honoring Mary’s Immaculate Conception. To me both topics relate to Vincent, as having a little baby in the house again — especially during Advent — frequently inspires me to reflect on Mary and the trials and joys she must have experienced while raising Jesus.

Thinking about those topics made me think about Vincent, and when I think about Vincent, the thing that first comes to my mind is his beautiful smile. My son is a happy baby, and he smiles frequently, especially when he sees Mommy, Daddy or his three big sisters. My mom likes to say Vincent “smiles with his whole face” — his eyes light up, his whole face radiates joy and it’s physically impossible to not return his smile.

Now I know Vin’s smile is more innocent (and in my biased opinion, much cuter) than most adults’ grins. However, isn’t it true that when someone bestows a genuine smile upon us, it’s hard not to smile back, or at the very least feel more cheerful? How much better would the world be if we all took a page out of Vin’s book and smiled at everyone we saw, and really meant it?

I don’t naively believe this will be easy. There are many days when I don’t feel particularly joyful, but those are the days when I most need a smile from someone else. With a little bit of effort, we can lift each other up and make the world a more joyful place.

Here’s my Advent challenge for you. Can you commit to sharing at least one smile with someone every day until Christmas?


Burke is a staff writer for the Catholic CourierShe can be reached at

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